Fighting for women’s rights in Tuvalu

Milikini Failautusi is a 27-year-old youth activist from Tuvalu working in the areas of youth, climate change, gender, human rights, indigenous rights, and sexual reproductive health and rights.

As the coordinator of the Tuvalu National Youth Council, she advocates for Tuvaluan youth in the country’s development agenda, and also works closely with the Pacific Youth Council on issues facing Pacific’s young people at the regional level.

Milikini is also a member of Pacific Young Women Leadership Alliance, which works to empower young women around the Pacific on issues affecting them.

While she is deeply respectful of traditional culture and acknowledges the important role it plays, Milikini has been unafraid to take on long-standing cultural norms that stand in the way of progressing gender equality in Tuvalu.

“I love my culture, but when it comes to certain issues I disagree with it,” she told Radio Australia at the 12th Triennial of Pacific Women in the Cook Islands in 2014, adding: “When it comes to cultures, women don’t get to say anything at all. They don’t have a say. They have to sit at the back and support the elders or their husbands or the leaders in their families. All they have to do is support them in terms of looking for money and food, and looking after babies and families.”

Milikini has been pushing for gender equality on a number of fronts in Tuvalu including equal participation of women in government and leadership, equal wages for women, and calling for a stop to domestic and gender based violence.


This portrait of Milikini Failautusi was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here (with some modifications of our own) with their permission.

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.


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